Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Power Position

It's funny how we try to minimize the role of power in the workplace. Sometimes we use terms like "associates" or "team members" instead of employees. We try flattening our organizations, or downplaying job titles to help put people at ease. 

Yet in the end, everyone is keenly aware of who has the authority to make decisions, and who does not. We haven't fooled anyone; nor is anyone racing to join our companies because we've mastered the employment semantics game.

Perceptions of Power
I'm convinced that even for those that abuse power, they still do not fully realize their impact. Even the most subtle comments or nonverbal cues are discussed and analyzed behind-the-scenes. 

Do leaders know this is happening? Maybe. Do they take the time to think through how they might take advantage (in a good way!) of this analysis and grapevine chatter? Rarely. 

Leaders today often get so caught up in "their world" that they simply can no longer effectively engage with other members of the organization outside of the leadership circle.

Perception Is Reality 
One of the most effective ways leaders can use their power is when they reverse the power position. Allowing employees to teach, or offer their expertise not only sends a message that you're human (imagine that?!), but it also lets the employee know that they have value.

Leaders like to feel valued, right? Guess what? Your employees/associates/team members want to feel valued too. Making it a priority to elevate the self-esteem of your staff will not only connect them to the organization, but will help build your internal reputation as a good leader. 

How About You
Who has the power in your organization? Is it ever shared with the employees? If not, you may want to consider switching the power position once in a while. It might surprise you how effective a strategy it can be.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Thursday, July 25, 2013


How does your company define it's leadership culture?

How does your company define it’s leadership culture?


Clueless leaders believing they have a vision for the future, yet are so out of touch with reality that they completely alienate their teams.


Unilateral decision-makers that have no understanding of the impact of their actions on not only the organization, but their personal reputations as well.


Lots of meetings, and changes, and more meetings. But never a clearly defined plan.
- See more at:

How does your company define it’s leadership culture?


Clueless leaders believing they have a vision for the future, yet are so out of touch with reality that they completely alienate their teams.


Unilateral decision-makers that have no understanding of the impact of their actions on not only the organization, but their personal reputations as well.


Lots of meetings, and changes, and more meetings. But never a clearly defined plan.
- See more at: Clueless leaders believing they have a vision for the future, yet are so out of touch with reality that they completely alienate their teams.

U Unilateral decision-makers that have no understanding of the impact of their actions on not only the organization, but their personal reputations as well.

L Lots of meetings, and changes, and more meetings. But never a clearly defined plan.

T ....

...check out the rest of this post over at HR Mouth of the South!


Monday, July 22, 2013

My Britches Don't Fit

When was the last time you received meaningful, constructive feedback? Are you in a leadership role so you've grown accustomed to giving instead of receiving? Me too. I get paid to provide feedback on all sorts of things from projects to performance.

It's good for us to get feedback too..


I'm a firm believer that it is impossible to be an effective leader if you are lacking in self-confidence. Eventually those insecurities will surface and your credibility is sure to fade. Think of the leaders you know who have the confidence necessary to take risks, try new approaches, and aren't afraid to admit when something didn't work. They usually inspire others, don't they? They usually attract high performers, right? Confidence has to be a good thing!

Unless self-confidence morphs into a trip to the all-you-can-eat-I'm-An-Awesome-Leader-buffet.

Too Much of a Good Thing

I'm told there is a "line" that shouldn't be crossed when it comes to balancing confidence and arrogance. I'm not sure I've ever seen this line, which means I should probably take a look over my shoulder to see if it is already behind me.

Effective feedback is the antidote to the confidence binge that many leaders succumb to over time. Done well, constructive feedback not only demonstrates support, but it allows for a greater awareness about complicated issues and gets everything back in to the proper context.

It's good for us to get feedback too..

How About You

Is your head buried deep in the leadership trough? If so, it may be time for you to pick your head up, take a look around, and create an environment where others know you are open to feedback. 

The worst thing that can happen is your ego is bruised for five minutes, and then that regular confidence will kick back in figuring out a way for you to be even more effective. Plus, it's no fun when we get so full of ourselves that we end up too big for our britches.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Hidden Benefit of Teams

Being part of a close team at work or in sports is special. The camaraderie, support, and understanding when something goes wrong is not taken for granted. It is usually earned through hard work and reciprocal support of the other team members.

Work Teams
When we find ourselves working in a real team environment it is terrific. The fear of retribution is replaced with support for taking risks, making mistakes and knowing that trying harder the next time is the norm. Room for error is part of the culture and is used to help others avoid pitfalls as new ideas are tested and implemented.

One of my favorite mantras is that "...we're going to try new things....if something doesn't work, stop doing one is going to get in trouble..."

That is a clear message to the team about the support they have from me.

Sports Teams
The evidence about sports teams gelling has been documented many times. What I find most interesting about the sports angle however, is not what happens on the ice, field or court. What really makes a team special is what happens "in the room." 

The connection between the players in the locker room is what truly tests a team's character. They know what to do when they're "at work" playing the games; but do they support each other when mistakes have occurred, or accept room for error from their teammates?

The good teams do...and that connection often translates in to wins.
Blogging Teams
Unlike typical work and sports teams, blogging team members are often spread far and wide. In some cases, team members have never met, or even spoken on the phone. Yet, blogging teams...effective ones...find a way to bring a level of support and camaraderie that is quite astonishing.

Consider this: if you were supposed to work with a new employee, but your only communication was a few emails, no phone calls, no FaceTime and the only image you had of the person was their avatar from twitter, would you be okay with that? How about in sports? Forget it! It's pretty tough to run the power play if your teammates aren't in the arena.

I am blessed to be part of one of those effective blogging teams. My teammates do something far beyond writing good content, sharing their perspectives, and challenging us all to elevate our leadership games. My teammates offer support, encouragement, compliments, helped family members get new jobs, and reach out to connect on issues that have absolutely nothing to do with blogging at all.

How many of our "normal" friends do that? I think I'm discovering a new definition of friends.

How About You
I would encourage you to check out my teammates over at Performance I Create. They are not only a good group of bloggers; but more importantly, they're damn good people too.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

It Can Be Done

I started my health care career at a small agency that served emotionally disturbed and physically abused children. It was a place that cared deeply for the residents who had to live away from their families due to their complicated circumstances and behavior. The staff were committed, I was thrilled to be part of an organization, and was happy to take a 25% cut in pay from my previous job (seriously, I was) to be part of the front line team.

I quickly realized two things: I found the right industry for me; and, I wanted more. I wanted to somehow move into a leadership role someday.

I wondered if it could be done.

Get A Plan
I quickly surveyed the leadership team and discovered they all had the same thing: a Master's Degree. So I enrolled in graduate school. It was hard, took a huge amount of time and money, and I lived through it.

I also applied for an internal position that I wasn't qualified for, but I went for it with such enthusiasm and energy that the hiring manager took a risk and gave me the job. After six weeks in my other job.

I was starting to believe it could be done.

Loyalty is Great...Unless It Makes No Sense
Two years into my graduate program I left the agency that I loved. I had an opportunity to join a hospital as their Training and Development Manager. 

I wasn't fully qualified for the job; but it was in a rural setting, I was willing to commute and it was an amazing opportunity. 

I took the job with one year left in my Master's Degree program, and figured I could make it all work.

...and I felt like I was starting to get it done.

Risks = Success
Those early moves in my career set up a series of events that led me to larger and larger hospitals and health systems. I continued to take risks and move to where I could grow as a professional and meet my goals that seemed to get bigger as time passed.

Over the years I've been a sponge, soaking up the mentoring and guidance of people like Joanne Borfitz, Mike McNallyKathy Gillette, John Steele and now Pamela Paulk here at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

How About You
Today I'm the luckiest HR pro in the world. I'm blessed to work for a great organization, with the best mission on earth. I'm surrounded by an incredible team of dedicated professionals who actually come to work each day knowing that they'll have to put up with me. Amazing.

It can be done. Believe it for yourself too...because it's true.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Heavy Mettle Leadership

Change processes can be difficult. Think about what you're actually doing when you decide to formally launch a culture change effort. You're asking the people who you've hired (or inherited but kept on the team), to stop behaving the way you've asked them to, in some cases for a long time. Now, you're them to be different.

Here's the're asking for the change from your team because it is abundantly clear that a change is necessary. You haven't failed, and honestly they haven't either. It is simply time to evolve.

Asking people to change is hard enough in our private lives, but when you factor in professional training, familiar routines, and in many cases a history of doing good work, the push back can be heavy and significant.

Your mettle as a leader is going to be tested.

Stay the Course
We have many opportunities to watch leaders in action. New executives come and go and bring their perspectives of what is best for the organization. The delicate balance that leaders, including human resources practitioners, have to manage is pushing hard enough to maintain momentum while not completely bringing the organization to a standstill. 

Balance is hard...and your mettle as a leader is going to be tested.

Listen to Your Team
One of the most effective ways to not only maintain the vision of the future-state of the organization and to keep the change process going is to be flexible enough to accept the team's feedback.

"The end game is achieving culture change, not following a self-prescribed linear path to the desired change. Feedback from the team that provides for minor course corrections not only gets the necessary buy-in, it also gets you to the same end point: culture change."
Whether the feedback is about the pace of change, messaging, or the elimination of barriers to success, it makes sense to leverage the skills and insights of those tasked with executing the change process.

How About You
Is your mettle being tested? It can be very lonely, particularly when you feel passionately about the issues you're advocating for inside your organization. Avoid the trap of convincing yourself that your perspective is the only one that can get the desired result. Stay strong, use your team, and show the world you truly are a heavy mettle leader.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Blogging, Work and Choosing Not to Suck at Leadership

When I started this blog my goal was to speak to one person --> me. My questions at the end of each post are mostly a challenge back to myself to react to what I've written. Sure, I love the many comments that have been added to the site over the years. But in reality, I'm the target audience.

For the most part that strategy has worked well. I've found that writing not only serves as a release, but also as a vehicle for me to process the challenges I face in my professional life. I also take advantage of the platform sometimes and discuss issues I feel strongly about (crappy meetings, racism, equal rights for our LGBT colleagues, etc..)

Work Is Hard
I love my job. But sometimes my job is hard. Maybe that is because I'm not doing well enough, maybe I have a lot more to learn, or maybe sometimes our jobs are supposed to be hard. I'm guessing it's a combination of all three factors. Blogging really helps in these instances.

Maybe you should try it?

Writing doesn't solve your problems, or help you identify a radical new approach that helps your company hit the quarterly earnings target. 

However, it does help organize what is happening in your world. Even if it's just a little problem that is stuck in your head. That alone may be a good enough reason to start writing through your problems, instead of just thinking through them.

Don't Suck
One of the unexpected outcomes of blogging, at least so far, is that once you publish your perspective on things, there is an unwritten sense of responsibility to live up to what has been put out on the web for all to see (or at least the small-but-mighty group of No Excuses readers!)

I don't want to suck at's just too important. So I have to live by what I've written, and that is hard to do sometimes.

How About You
What strategies do you use to deal with the pressure of your work life? Have you ever considered writing down your challenges; or, perhaps even starting your own blog? For me, it has moved from being a project I was intrigued about doing, to something that I have to do...

...just for me.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.